As readers of this post know, we at Change Strategists, Inc. are deeply involved with leadership issues in large corporations around the country. I tend not to write about issues that directly or inadvertently involve our current clients, as those are held confidential.
But I am free to write about other companies, and I have long admired the Snapchat operation and its leadership. Evan Speigel is the CEO and co-founder, having started Snap while he was a design student at Stanford. In late 2017, after a visit to China, he became convinced that the messaging app at Snap needed to be redesigned, and he immediately presented his designers with this task, giving them a short timeframe with which to have the project completed. According to confidantes reporting to the WSJ, Speigel has, during his seven-year tenure as CEO of Snap, consistently benefitted from his gut instincts and his tendency to take control of details and ignore naysayers. Does anyone remember Steve Jobs? – He had the same tendency and did very well by it, ultimately. At any rate, the Journal is writing this piece as though Speigel is the first CEO of a start-up ever to trust gut instincts and pressure workers to go along with the plans. Needless to say, the project didn’t go as well as planned – otherwise there wouldn’t be a story that you and I would be discussing. But because Snap is a relatively new company, still in the start-up phase of things, and because share prices have dropped as a result of the reviews of the new app, people are hastening to do what people do these days – blame the person in charge. Nothing wrong with that, if the person in charge is actually to blame. However, in this case, if Snap’s designers couldn’t get a revision of the app completed in several months’ time, then I’d say that the problem lies with them, not Speigel. It appears that they didn’t want to be “rushed” in completing the project – so I’d guess that they did what this group of people – that is technicians, IT folks – characteristically do – they dragged their feet and didn’t put their best effort forward. IT people, after all, rule the world – from their own perspective, of course. One can only hope that all of those people held large quantities of the Snap stocks that have dropped in value by 76% as a result of their actions – or lack thereof. Snap is revising the app and will ultimately move forward with the changes that should have been made all along. Mr. Speigel’s comment on the matter is telling of his temerity and determination: “We learned that moving really fast can hep move us in the right direction, but we also need to take the tine to rest and reassess.” In other words, until those “special” IT folks were jolted out of their comfort zones, needed change would not have been possible.